...And I have to say it was quite an interesting experience! I also went for "No Rest for the Pro", and it didn't make the game all that much harder now that there's no travel fatigue anymore. And I managed to legitimately miss "Zero Knockouts" achievement in a solo run, which, I guess, should be an achievement in its own right. :D
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Just for clarity: I was playing without Trial of Iron (I don't believe in legitimate triple-crown-solo anyway) and without Expert mode (finished on Expert my first time, but decided to enable spell area indicators and info on dialogue checks for the second).
With a final official kill count of 140, I've successfully finished most of the side quests in the base game (didn't touch the expansions yet, except for some stronghold stuff, but not all of it). A few exceptions (besides party members' quests, of course) are:
- Endless Paths of Od Nua. I've only reached level 6, and consciously ignored some heavily guarded stuff on previous levels. I did kill that ogre chieftain on level 3, though.
- Divine quests of Galawain and Berath (first could be done without much kills due to a bug, but I decided not to, and second requires clearing out Etik Nol, which is totally not a pacifist thing to do).
- Clandestine Cargo - I could do it kill-free with a Rite of Walking Shadows, but it wasn't worth spending such a rare scroll for such a useless reward. Ignoring it (and, eventually, failing due to destruction of the Sanitarium) turned out to be the right decision: I really needed all these stealth rites later.
By far, the most interesting find of this playthrough was the fact that this game does have almost everything needed for a "pure pacifist" run with a non-rogue class, even if the
developers probably think different. My total number of story kills is 14. That is, 11 in the very first location (too much, I know, but I guess I was a little
dumb when I started), and 3 in the final battle with Thaos. Everything in between is strictly optional, as far as the kill counter is concerned. So, after reading about the 12-kill run with a rogue elsewhere, I think that the real minimum would be 7.
However, getting clean stats globally would be tricky - perhaps still possible without rogue's shadowing beyond, but I can't be 100% sure. For example, there isn't much XP to get in Chapter 1 unless you finish Raedric's hold (which isn't doable without a single kill), and you really need that XP to up your stealth. And, even if you manage that, I'm not sure a pure pacifist could do Cliaban Rilag without all the extra XP for non-pacifist side quests: for the last guarded door in this dungeon, you need stealth 15 + mechanics 8, or, more realistically, stealth 12 + mechanics 8 + lore 4 + a single rite of walking shadows.
Me? I played as a pure pacifist story-wise (refusing to kill anything the game so often tried to trick me into killing just to progress), but wasn't aiming to do my second playthrough super-boring, so I did kill for side-quest XP when I had to - and, in a few cases, when I wanted to, which amounts to around 10 extra kills out of these 140. And, of course, there's that three-tusk staelgar leader whom I poisoned via dialogue without raising the kill count...
And now, some rant...
1) Athletics and survival still look totally useless, despite their new mechanics. Not sure what was the point of changing them. I mean, high athletics is now equal to 1 extra healing potion per encounter? Great, but who needs that? Survival bonuses look nice... in theory... but in practice, they are just too weak to justify spending so much skill points. Of course, I'm judging from a solo run perspective, so perhaps I'm missing some great tactical opportunities for a normal party...
2) Who the hell decided that limiting item summons to 20 seconds was a good idea?! They are already limited to 1 summon per rest, so you basically killed off a game feature. As if there's not enough dumb "balancing" limits taking the fun out of the game already. This was a huge disappointment and a horrible thing to do with a patch, I never expected to come back to something like this. Although I did find a lot of use for summons in my pacifist schemes, but that's about everything they are good for now.
3) I would very much like it if some future Obsidian RPG showed a little more respect for stealth characters. Namely, I hate proximity scripts which force me out of stealth for a "very important" dialogue before I am technically detected. And I absolutely hate that convenience script on stairs in Heritage Hill tower! Ruining my stealth just to ask if I want to go to the second floor, or to the first floor? Yeah, great idea, great time saver. Especially when there's a bunch of hungry undead waiting for me on both floors, just near the stairs. Thanks devs, I really needed that. Twice. Not that it helped you much in tricking me out of my pacifism...
4) A little less underestimation would be nice too. Remember those looters under Madhmr bridge? I actually sneaked around their 2 lookouts, only to find the rest accusing me of killing them because they "heard fighting". So I just killed them all. That was also the biggest exception to my pacifism, because, technically, I didn't have to, but they didn't give my cruel character any good reason to spare them, and Peregund promised reward...
5) I totally expected the final fight to be tricky on solo path of the damned, but I didn't expect it to be impossible without using a horrible (and, thankfully, still unpatched) exploit. Looks like it is. Cipher is definitely not a bad solo class, but totally helpless against Thaos' will stats and extra resists. My only chance came from re-rolling the stats in a tavern (that was the second time I had to do this in this run, with first being before Cliaban Rilag due to a lack of mechanics) and re-making my cipher into a stupid tank with super-high endurance, deflection and accuracy. Oh, and that exploit too, otherwise I don't think my kiting skills would be enough still.
I do remember someone complaining about Thaos being too vulnerable to paralyse-lock in original game, so I assume this was rebalanced with a later patch. Good call perhaps, but still not a good idea to lock ciphers out of the party completely. Perhaps a few skills/talents/items/drugs with good spell-accuracy buffs on self would help. Of course, if anyone knows how to kill Thaos with a solo 12 lvl cipher on Path of the Damned without any dirty tricks, I'd be very interested to hear all about it.